Getting tripped up by drinking too much booze has affected many people worldwide. In the United States alone it is estimated that upwards of 17 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
The large number is deeply concerning, for health problems related to alcoholism get worse with age. If a person struggles with addiction to alcohol, how does it affect someone over time?
How The Body Is Affected
Alcohol addiction is an issue for more about 11.2 million men and 7.2 million women. The majority of people dealing with alcoholism are 18 or older. Each of these adults are facing ongoing, detrimental ramifications due to alcohol use.
Problems from AUD may be noticed immediately, but some negative consequences related to health and bodily functions remain hidden, then crop up later in life. Alcoholism affects more than physical health too. Challenges related to AUD can extend to a person’s mental and emotional well-being, in addition to threatening his or her relationship with family and friends.
When a person is addicted to the use of alcohol, his or her physical health deteriorates. Drinking too much alcohol causes problems with the drinker’s:
- Immune System
A person’s liver helps to release toxins from the body, and the body recognizes alcohol as a poison. AUD can cause liver inflammation and other serious health issues, such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, steatosis/fatty liver, and even alcoholic hepatitis.
The pancreas also reacts to alcohol in a negative way. When a person drinks alcohol, the pancreas releases toxic chemicals that could lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis stops proper digestion due to the destruction and inflammation of blood vessels in the pancreas.
Unfortunately, a person’s heart is not an organ that is exempt from major problems due to alcoholism. AUD damages the heart, leading to health difficulties such as high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heart beat, and stretching or sagging of the heart muscle.
Alcoholism also causes issues with immune system function. After a person drinks, his or her immune system’s ability to ward off infection is hindered for at least 24 hours. For a person dealing with AUD, this might mean that he or she is constantly more susceptible to contracting a disease or illness. Examples include tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Finally, a drinker’s brain is affected by alcohol. Drinking alcohol actually changes neural pathways in the brain. A person’s brain with AUD actually looks and acts differently than someone who does not drink or drinks very little. Alcohol can even cause permanent damage to a person’s ability to effectively coordinate normal bodily movements.
Mental And Emotional Well-Being
Since the brain’s communication pathways are manipulated by the terrible poisons of alcoholism, a person must understand that mental and emotional health are affected too. Someone with AUD may end up facing serious mood and behavior disorders, in addiction to not being able to think clearly.
Alcohol also acts as a depressant in the body. This means that when a person drinks alcohol, the activity in the central nervous system is greatly hindered. Negative emotional responses eventually overtake a person who drinks too much. What started off as a relaxed feeling with one drink, could result in:
- Sadness or Depression
AUD can cause a person to funnel his or her attention solely on when, where, and how the next binge will take place. This can affect a drinker’s finances, daily schedule, motivation, goals, and degree of attentiveness toward the people he or she is closest to.
The extent to which alcoholism destroys a normal family dynamic is astronomical. An alcoholic often does not have the time, energy, or focus necessary to give to the friends and family that deserve it. As a result, relationships often fall apart due to AUD.
Challenges Increasing With Age
The longer a person is addicted to alcohol or the older the person struggling with alcoholism, the more problems he or she is bound to come up against. As a person ages, his or her body is more vulnerable to negative health problems. Drinking over a long period of time also has serious consequences for someone’s health—mental, emotional, and physical.
Contact Us Today
If you or someone you are close to has experienced a decline in health due to alcohol use disorder, there is not a moment to spare. The ways in which alcoholism affects a person’s health are many, and should be addressed with quality treatment. Getting professional advice and options for rehabilitation is the first step to getting you or a loved one on the way to complete health. Contact us now to receive information on the ways it is possible to move forward and get past the overuse of alcohol.